In a post on the website of libertarian activist Lew Rockwell, Mr. Paul said Monday that the governmental reaction to the tragic explosions was worse than the attack itself. The forced lockdown of much of the Boston area, police riding armored vehicles through the streets, and door-to-door searches without warrants were all reminiscent of a military coup or martial law, Paul added.
“The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city,” according to Paul.
Furthermore, this response did not result in the capture of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Paul charged. He was discovered hiding in a boat by a private citizen, who called police.
“And he was identified not by government surveillance cameras, but by private citizens who willingly shared their photographs with the police,” Paul wrote on Lew Rockwell’s site.
Yikes. This isn’t going to go down well in Watertown, is it? Citizens there applauded when police finally carted off Tsarnaev alive. The Boston police commissioner told his troops over the radio that “it’s a proud day to be a Boston police officer.” In the wake of the suspect’s capture the media have generally portrayed law enforcement officers as heroes.
But Paul’s contrarian take perhaps should not be surprising. After all, he’s a committed libertarian who at one point in the GOP presidential debates said that the border fence with Mexico might at some point be used to keep US citizens penned in.
And while Paul’s position here is, um, not in the majority, there are other public figures who charge that the Boston response was overkill. In some ways this is one of those points in the circle of American politics were conservative libertarianism and liberal progressivism meet.
The generally left-leaning Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, for instance, told PBS host Bill Moyers over the weekend that the public lionization of police in the wake of the Boston bombing isn’t necessarily a good thing.
“The way in which Americans now related to their government, the way in which they get nationalistic pride is through the assertion of this massive military or police force, and very few other things produce that kind of pride,” Greenwald said. “I think [this] shows a lot about our value systems and what the government is failing to do. And that’s the way in which this culture becomes coarsened.”
However, state and local officials have continued to defend their decision to shut down much of Boston for the Tsarnaev manhunt. At the time they did not know whether the suspect had more explosives or fellow conspirators, and they did not want to risk another tragedy.
“I think we did what we should have done and were supposed to do with the always-imperfect information that you have at the time,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) said at a news conference last week.
And Paul in particular is now drawing criticism for the company he keeps. Lew Rockwell, Paul’s former congressional chief of staff, now heads the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a think tank with “deep ties to the neo-Confederate movement,” which believes the wrong side won the Civil War, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
As a Paul employee, Rockwell oversaw newsletters published under the former congressman’s name that contained controversial statements about race, homosexuality, and other hot-button topics.
Furthermore, Paul’s own new organization, the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, has an advisory board that contains a “bevy of conspiracy theorists, cranks, and apologists for some of the worst regimes on the planet,” according to Daily Beast writer James Kirchik.
These include Southwestern Law School professor Butler Shaffer, who has written a post for the Lew Rockwell website titled “9/11 was a conspiracy,” notes the Daily Beast.